Nick Saban is inarguably the greatest college football coach of all-time. Many coaches and programs that have faced him have fallen. Jimbo Fisher being one coach that comes to mind, along with several non-SEC opponents in my article here that saw or are still seeing a program decline after losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide and head coach Nick Saban.
Due to the Tide's success year-over-year, often times these programs that decline play them in the college football playoff or a new year’s six bowl game. Those that do not typically play the Tide in the first game of the season.
With these matchups combined in which Saban at minimum has had 26 days to prepare, the Tide has a record of 26-5 in these matchups which equates to an 83% winning percentage. That is quite impressive considering that 15 of these matchups happened as either a college football playoff semi-final, BCS national championship or new years six bowl game. No matter how you slice it, each of these 15 wins is coming against the nation’s elite.
Nick Saban & Alabama rarely lose with 30+ days to prepare
When it comes to analyzing Alabama’s win-loss record with at least 30 days to prepare for a BCS national championship or a college football playoff semi-final, The Tide are a perfect 9-0 under Saban. The Tide had 26 days to prepare for Ohio State in the first ever college football playoff semi-final in 2014, and 13 days to prepare for Notre Dame in the college football playoff semi-final. Including these two affairs, the Tide are still 11-1.
Furthermore, the only game they have lost with more than 30 days to prepare is the Sugar Bowl to the Oklahoma Sooners in 2013 that was not the BCS national championship game.
Taking a look at the Tide in their non-conference power five season openers since Saban took over in 2007, the Tide are 14-2. The loss in week two opening up the 2023 season to the Texas Longhorns was the first since 2007 against Florida State in Saban’s first season in Tuscaloosa.
TAKING A LOOK AT TEAMS PERFORMANCES AFTER PLAYING ALABAMA
Since 2007, the Tide have appeared in a bowl game each of those years under Saban. Of the 16 full seasons Saban has been the head coach of the Tide, 10 of them have resulted in the team he has beaten having a worse season the following year. Those teams include:
- Colorado (2007)
- Texas (2009)
- Michigan State (2010)
- LSU (2011)
- Notre Dame (2012)
- Michigan State (2015)
- Washington (2016)
- Michigan (2019)
- Cincinnati (2021)
- Kansas State (2022)
The year Saban has played these teams, they have a combined record of 111-31, which makes sense considering these are all playoff caliber opponents, or close to it. This equates to a 78% combined winning percentage. The following season, these same teams went a combined 72-48, which equates to a 60% winning percentage. That is a telling drop off, but makes sense considering Saban’s teams are known for wanting to “break the will” of the other team.
In non-conference power five season openers where Saban also obviously has more than 30 days to prepare for each, only four teams actually saw a worse record the following season. However, until this season in 2023 with the Longhorns, not a single power five team had made it to the playoffs. In fact, only four of them have gone on to win 10 or more games in that same season.
So needless to say, when it matters most, the Tide are perfect at 9-0 when it comes to playoff-level matchups with more than 30 days to prepare. And on the regular season front, the lack of production for the entirety of the season from almost all of their opponents are evident as well. The “break their will” mentality has been long-lasting in Tuscaloosa. And these numbers show it without a doubt. What is also shown is giving Saban more than 30 days to prepare is usually a good thing for the Tide, and not for the other side.